Saturday, November 2, 2013

Phragmites day

Today, November 2, we had a Fall event at The Brickworks. We met with stewards from the other sites to tackle phragmites around the back ponds of The Brickworks.  Phragmites, the common reed, is a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. It is highly invasive and causes damage to wetlands.  The team that normally works there didn't have the time to do this task before the end of the season.

It was a rainy day but about 18 people showed up which is great. We had to wear these flashy volunteer vests as The Evergreen Brickworks get so busy on a Saturday morning with the farmers' market and other events that people might wonder what we're doing out there with clippers and other tools.  I guess we had to look official.  We don't want to scare anyone.

 We got to the site and saw the amount of phragmites that needed to be removed. 

Before picture

We picked up dozens of bundles like these. 

After pictures.  We can actually see the pond now after removing the phragmites.

A few of the volunteers towards the end of the morning. Tired but happy to get the job done.

This is the first time we had an event so late in the season. Usually, the stewardship program ends at the beginning of September. But it sure was worth it and people were commenting that it would be nice to continue this in future years. But now, the season has wrapped up for good and we'll continue this work next Spring.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The site is very dry this week, we haven't had any rain for more than 2 weeks now.  We needed to clear up a lot of dead tree branches at the back of the site and we also did a lot of mulching to try to add moisture to the trees. 
No water monitoring here.

The pond is so dry now. I remember the first week of stewardship, there was a duck swimming here.

It's amazing that the aquatic plants hold up even without water.

We identified a new plant I hadn't seen before.  It's a smartweed and there is quite a bit of it around the pond.

There is still a lot of stinging nettle. We've had to deal with this a lot this season.

But the golden rod colours start to show, I really love these.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to Riverdale Farm

This week, we went back to Riverdale Farm to take care of some more invasives. Stinging nettle is pretty much one of the worst at this site. We also worked on Japanese Knotweed and Burdock. 

As usual at this time of the year, the sanctuary pond is pretty murky and full of duckweed.

Some of the other ponds are still quite clear.

The slopes are covered with English Ivy.

Lots of ducks in the ponds.
Black-crowned night heron.

Stone wall that leads to the Monkey House.  I'm just back from a trip to England and this wall reminds me of the stone walls and fences of the English countryside.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Benthic invertebrates

Last Monday, it was time again for the Benthic invertebrates workshop at The Brickworks.  It used to take place at Riverdale Farm but the ponds are so murky there, it was always very hard to find any bugs.  So, for the second year in a row, the workshop was held at this different location.

I'm posting here some pics of the evening. We found some 10 different species of bugs which means that the results were pretty good.

Quite a good turnout

Pond at The Brickworks

Samples of the types of bugs we may find.

Examining the samples

A closer look.

Even closer.

The workshop leader is from EcoSpark.

Hip waders

Volunteers willing to wade in the pond.

We need to use lots of water to filter the mud.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The slope patch...and a visitor

This week, we had a small crew, so we decided to work on the slope patch located in the middle of the park. It's our unofficial site but we like to remove invasives there, so they don't come to our site. The main invasive there is Phragmites which I will talk about later this season. This time around, we had a lot of burdock to deal with.
There's always a lot of it at the front of the site in the sunniest part, so it's a big job.
There was also quite a bit of thistle to deal with.  Now the trees will have a bit of breathing space.

We had a visitor at the site a couple of weeks ago, a gypsy moth which is an insect native to Europe and Asia that has been severely weakening trees across North America.
Gypsy moth on a green ash tree
However, even though the gypsy moth can do damage to trees, the ash tree in this picture will have a much harder time with the Emerald Ash Borer.

But I'm tired of talking about invasive stuff, so here are pictures of Blue Flag Iris and Swamp Milkweed  from a couple of years ago. I'm hoping to see a lot more of these plants this year on the edge of the pond. 
Blue Flag Iris (Iris Versicolor)

Swamp Milkweed
I saw this sign after stewardship a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was a pretty cool idea especially since Riverdale Farm was my stewardship site for a few years and we still go there 2 or 3 times in the season to work on the site. 
This sign is on Broadview north of Gerrard, on the south of Riverdale Park East.